P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM announces free power for tubewells
Blames SAD/BJP for misuse of RDF funds
Lalit Mohan and  Ravinder Sud
Tribune News Service

Garshankar (Hoshiarpur), August 28
Announcing another sop just months before the elections, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today declared the government would give free power to irrigation tubewells in kandi areas.

At an election rally at Garshankar today, the Chief Minister said Power Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had been given the task of calculating the financial burden incurred for providing free power to irrigation tubewells of the tubewell corporation in kandi areas.

While farmers in the plains were getting free power for their tubewells, the farmers of kandi areas were being forced to pay Rs 50 per hour for irrigation water from the corporation tubewells. The farmers were forced to pay as the tubewell corporation had to pay its power bill while private farmers got free power for the same.

The Chief Minister also clarified the indictment of the Punjab government by the CAG report for misuse of funds of Rs 940 crore. He put the blame on the SAD/BJP government. The entire rural development funds that had been brought under scanner by the CAG had been spent by the previous government during the period of 2001 to 2002, he said, adding, that the entire RDF funds were diverted by the previous government to the sangat darshan programs.

When asked about the indictment of the government due to its failure to disburse funds of Rs 340.57 crore given by the Union government as draught relief for the period 2002-04, the Chief Minister declined any knowledge of it.

Earlier, the CM inaugurated a new drinking water tubewell near Khalsa College in Garshankar. He claimed the entire Garshankar town had been brought under 100 per cent drinking water and sewerage system by spending Rs 8 crore. He also inaugurated a 66 KV substation for Garshankar.

Unemployed B.Ed. teachers once again managed to disrupt the rally of the Chief Minister today. As soon as he got up to speak, the teachers sitting among the audience started raising anti-government slogans. They were pushed out of the rally by the cops. 


Sampooranta Divas: Cong, SAD eye main function
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
While the Congress government and the SAD-ruled SGPC are vying with each other to woo people through their parallel celebrations of Sampooranta Divas at Talwandi Sabo, leaders of both main political forces of Punjab appear to be eyeing only the concluding day function on August 30.

SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, who was supposed to preside over a seminar on Guru Granth Sahib yesterday, did not turn up. Mr Badal’s name was printed in the seminar’s invitation. PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa was to represent the state government at the start of the Akhand Path today besides inaugurating an exhibition of relics and weapons of Sikh Gurus, but his visit was cancelled. His name too was in the state government’s invitation. The Akhand Path began at the Likhansar Sahib gurdwara in the presence of Ferozepore Division Commissioner K.S Sidhu and the district administration officials.

The Commissioner also opened the exhibition in the absence of the minister.

Meanwhile, the SGPC too began an Akhand Path at the Damdama Sahib gurdwara today. While the state government had put up an exhibition of relics and weapons of Sikh gurus, the SGPC managed to exhibit ‘Ganga Sagar’, a relic of Guru Gobind Singh, which was brought here by Pakistan’s Member of National Assembly Rai Aziz Ulah Khan. At the exhibition, Gurmeet Singh from Nangal village in Faridkot displayed a bowl, a pair of shoes and a blue attire of Guru Gobind Singh.

Another individual from Doad village put up Guru Arjan Dev’s rabab and ‘dhal’ of Guru Gobind Singh.

Handwritten copies of ‘Mool Mantar’ by various Gurus were also kept at the exhibition. On the other hand, the SGPC has decided to erect four memorial gates in the township to commemorate the occasion. 


Govt apathy killed Goindwal project: BJP MP
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Goindwal (Tarn Taran), August 28
The nucleus industrial complex envisaged in 1980 by then Union Minister of State for Industries Dr Charanjit Chanana, which had been turned into an industrial graveyard is the testimony of the failure of the successive governments, the Centre and in the state, to safeguard interests of entrepreneurs of this area.

Stating this to media here today Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP said the government which prepared the concept paper had assured to provide a number of back-up facilities and infrastructure, including round the clock power, setting up of ancillary units by the public sector undertakings (PSU) and administrative set-up conducive for the growth of industry in the complex. He said of the 165 approved units in the industrial area only six were running while five were operating partially and remaining units never took off.

Enumerating reasons for the collapse of this project in the Majha region Mr Sidhu said the state had failed to fulfil all promises made before the launch of this complex. He said exorbitant rate of interest charged by the Punjab Financial Corporation on the loan advanced to entrepreneurs led to the sickness of the complex. He added the state had also failed to provide 24-hour power, freight subsidy and infrastructure to the units.

On land allotment at throwaway price to the Reliance Industries (RIL) at Goindwal he said if the state government was concerned about the welfare of the people it should have allotted the land on lease to the RIL. Mr Sidhu also decried the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board for shifting its staff to Khadoor Sahib as the entrepreneurs and the general public was put to great harassment.

Meanwhile, Mr Mangal Singh, president, Goindwal Industries Welfare Association submitted a memorandum to Mr Sidhu demanding the waiving of outstanding loan and repayments made by entrepreneurs.


Youth rescued from Pak jail
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur August 28
Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Education and PWD, today claimed to have rescued Manjit Singh, a resident of Budhanwala village near Qadian, from a Pakistani jail. He presented the youth before mediapersons at his residence in Qadian today.

The youth, while narrating his woes, said a travel agent from Hoshiarpur had promised to send him to Greece. He demanded Rs 5 lakh and his parents paid Rs 2.5 lakh raising loans from money lenders. On April 22 last year, the agent boarded 26 youths, including him, on a plane that landed at Tehran in Iran.

The youths were to cross border in trucks the next day. They were, however, caught by the Tehran authorities. The Iranian authorities pushed them across the border into Pakistan, where they were put in jail. A Pakistani court awarded them jail for 15 days. However, they were not let off even after the completion of the sentence.

They were kept in various jails and subjected to inhuman conditions. Nineteen youths, eight from Punjab, six from Jammu and Kashmir and five Gujarat, were released recently, he said. Many others like him were still suffering in Pakistan jails, he said.

Mr Bajwa said the father of Manjit Singh met him and told him about his son. “I took up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister, who talked to his counterpart in Pakistan”.

The youths were released after the intervention of the Punjab Government. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on his last visit to Pakistan had got 700 prisoners released, 203 of which belonged to Punjab, he said.

The Punjab Government was seriously contemplating a law to deal with the unregistered travel agents, who were operating in Punjab. These agents were duping youths and landing them on inhospitable territories like Pakistan or Iraq. Many youths had to spend the prime of their youth in Pakistani jails, besides losing money.

While the government has fixed Rs 3,000 as the maximum processing fee for the recruiting agents, the unscrupulous agents here were charging lakhs of rupees for sending youths abroad illegally, he said.


Farmers burn effigies of govt, Trident owner 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
In protest against the acquisition of agricultural land of farmers for big industrial houses “forcibly” by the Punjab Government, especially in the villages of Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangherra (near Barnala) for the Trident group, a large number of farmers, led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), burnt the effigies of the state government and the owner of the Trident group, near the SDM’s office at Sunam, 13 km from here today.

Earlier, the farmers gathered in New Grain Market at Sunam and held a protest dharna and rally there. The rally was addressed, among others, by Mr Dilbag Singh Harigarh, president of Sunam block of the BKU (Ugrahan), and Mr Balbir Singh Jhaloor, president of Lehragaga block of the union. All the leaders opposed the forcible acquisition of the land of the farmers and urged the government to scrap the notification issued already in connection with the acquisition of land in three Barnala villages.

After the rally the protesters held a march from New Grain Market to the SDM’s office complex, raising slogans against the Punjab Government and its policies to acquire the land of the farmers forcibly.

At the gate of the SDM’s office complex, Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan addressed the gathering and criticised the government for its alleged anti-farmer and anti-people policies. He said the government had ruined the education and health sectors with its privatisation policies. He said the government’s policy, related to acquisition of land forcibly, had also made hundreds of families of the farmers landless.


CM’s effigy burnt

Sangrur, August 28
Activists of the youth wing of the SAD burnt the effigies of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his Media Adviser, Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, here today. They also raised slogans against them.

Mr Khushpal Singh Bir Kalan, district president (Rural), said the effigies were burnt for the “maleficent” activities of Mr Chahal. The protesters also took out a march in the town. — TNS


Mann warns of backlash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann today alleged that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the SGPC were pleading with the government to forcibly stop him from taking part in the Shatabdi Samagam to be held at Talwandi Sabo on August 30. He stated this while interacting with mediapersons prior to holding a meeting with his party workers at Jodhpur Pakhar village.

Mr Mann said if any force was used to stop him then his party workers could get out of control. He said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister and Mr Badal would be responsible for any trouble if he was stopped from taking part in the samagam.

Mr Mann would be visiting Joga and Mansa constituencies tomorrow to mobilise party workers for the event.

Meanwhile, the police has taken a serious note of Mr Mann’s decision to participate in the function. SSP Varinder Kumar said police was making tight security arrangements to ensure that there was no clash during the samagam. 


Sukhbir seeks probe into bungling
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 28
Mr Sukhbir Badal, general secretary of the SAD, today sought an independent probe into the alleged bungling of Rs 965 crore by the Congress government and its subsequent indictment by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

Talking to newsmen here, he said funds meant for the building of infrastructure and roads for the rural poor had been allegedly diverted for other non-development works thus depriving the villages of its all round development. The CAG had in its report had found no evidence indicating that amount collected as rural development cess during 2001-2005 was used for the specified purpose.

He described Capt Amarinder Singh as the most corrupt Chief Minister who had literally no time to look after the welfare of the people of the state. Lashing out at the Chief Minister, Mr Badal said most of the times he was out of the state.

Mr Badal said the SAD would soon bring out a comprehensive economic development vision paper to envisage overall growth of the state. He said the claims of development projects made by the Amarinder Singh government were totally false and no major investment had come to the state during the past five years.

Presenting the SAD’s blueprint to overcome the present power situation in the state, Mr Badal said his party promised to make the state power surplus in the next five years if it returns to power.


Council of Ministers to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab Council of Ministers will meet here tomorrow. It will approve the drafts of various Bills to be presented in the Punjab Assembly which will meet on September 14 and 15. Besides certain bills, there are about six Ordinances, which are to be converted in Acts.

The issues, which will be discussed by the Council, include the formulation of a code of conduct for money lenders who advance money to farmers. The Committee headed by Mr Lal Singh, Food and Supply Minister, will submit its report to the Council of Ministers with regard to its discussion in this regard with commission agents.


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